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Bauman comes up big and Loyalsock defeats Mount Carmel in district quarterfinals

Saraj Ali of Loyalsock is fouled by Cole Spears of Mount Carmel at Loyalsock High School Friday night Feb. 25, 2022. Loyalsock won 51-38. DAVE KENNEDY/Sun-Gazette

Nate Bauman does not score all the time. But when he does, it so often comes at the most important times.

Bauman drained clutch 3-pointers in comeback wins at last week’s Heartland Conference Tournament as Loyalsock captured the championship. Playing in his first District 4 Class AAA quarterfinal Friday, Bauman delivered a repeat performance and this one helped the defending state champions survive and advance.

Bauman scored 11 points, seven which helped put Loyalsock ahead to stay in the first quarter, and four big ones late, which helped the Lancers finally put away determined Mount Carmel. Nothing came easy against the visiting Tornadoes, but Loyalsock shined in the closing three minutes and won, 51-38. The Lancers (21-4) closed the game on a 10-0 run and earned a spot in next week’s semifinals against Southern Columbia. That game will be Tuesday or Wednesday at a time and place to be determined.

“For one reason or another, in a tight ball game the other guys look for Nate. Even though he’s only a sophomore he has a nose for the basket at the right time,” Loyalsock coach Ron Insinger said. “Whether it’s a trey or shaking and baking and getting loose and throwing a floater up, he seems to find the hole when we need it.”

Loyalsock needed it in the first and last quarters and Bauman delivered each time. He scored seven of Loyalsock’s last nine first-quarter points as the Lancers shook off a slow start and turned a one-point deficit into a 14-6 lead. And when the pressure was highest late, Bauman really stepped up.

Jaiden Ross of Loyalsock puts up a shot against Mount Carmel at Loyalsock High School Friday night Feb. 25, 2022. Loyalsock won 51-38. DAVE KENNEDY/Sun-Gazette

A Bauman putback had Loyalsock up 10, but Mount Carmel (14-10) scored seven straight points and a Cole Spears drive closed the gap to 41-38 with a little more than three minutes remaining. After Jaiden Ross weaved through traffic and scored to stop the bleeding, Jaylen Andrews tipped a pass, Bauman stole it and was fouled. He calmly drained both foul shots and made it a seven-point game. After Saraj Ali (15 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 steals) calmly hit both ends of a 1-and-1, Bauman helped seal the game, making his third steal and finding Ali who again drained both foul shots.

Loyalsock made 10 of 13 fourth-quarter free throws and shots by Ross and Tyler Gee capped the 10-0 run as Loyalsock held off a Mount Carmel comeback for a second straight year in districts. The Lancers also erased a five-point halftime deficit when these teams played a few weeks earlier.

“It’s cool because it’s my first district game and I had to show I could play in it,” Bauman said. “I just have to believe in my shot and be confident.”

Loyalsock looked especially confident after it went on a 15-3 run and opened an 11-point lead midway through the second quarter. Mount Carmel, however, was unfazed, stuck to its game plan and cut the deficit to five by halftime. The Tornadoes defended well, dictated the tempo and stayed within striking distance from there, getting as close as four in the third quarter.

At different times, however, different Lancers made key plays and/or shots which kept Mount Carmel from tying the game or taking a lead. Sophomore Jaylen Andrews made a steal and layup to put Loyalsock ahead 33-26 and Ali scored inside to make it 35-29 entering the fourth quarter. Five players scored in those final eight minutes and, as it did at the HAC Tournament, Loyalsock responded well when pushed hard late in a postseason game.

Saraj Ali of Loyalsock pulls in a rebound against Mount Carmel at Loyalsock High School Friday night Feb. 25, 2022. Loyalsock won 51-38. DAVE KENNEDY/Sun-Gazette

Other than Ali and Brendan Clark, no Loyalsock player had played meaningful district playoff minutes before Friday. This was a trial by fire, but Loyalsock stayed poised, came through, came out burn free, and moved on. Wins, especially in the playoffs, do not come with style points, so winning was all that mattered.

“We did what we had to do to survive,” Bauman said. “In a close game we have to pull through, especially if we want to get to states.”

“That certainly helps. It seems like lately, game in and game out, we’ve had our backs against the wall. We’re fighting. It’s a dogfight all the way,” Insinger said. “That being said, we have won most of those games, so I’m happy for that. That’s tough to coach, learning how to win.”

Loyalsock has done that quite well this season and won for the 17th time in 18 games Friday. Mount Carmel did all it could to prevent the Lancers from continuing its success and showed why it became one of the district’s most improved teams from December through February.

Spears was especially strong and scored five straight points to make it a three-point game in the fourth quarter. Pedro Feliciano added nine but Loyalsock’s defense dug in over the final three minutes and did not let Mount Carmel score again.

Jaylen Andrews of Loyalsock puts up a shot against Mount Carmel at Loyalsock High School Friday night Feb. 25, 2022. Loyalsock won 51-38. DAVE KENNEDY/Sun-Gazette

“I’m proud of them that they didn’t fall apart. For four of them that was their last home game ever. We talked about that before the game and thought that would light a fire under some of them to bring their A game but I go back to Mount Carmel and how fundamentally sound they played,” Insinger said. “They took advantage of every mistake we made and they capitalized whenever the opportunity existed.”

Clark was tough on the boards like he was at the HAC Tournament and grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds. Andrews helped fuel the defense and made four steals while blocking two shots. Gee and Braydon Miller were strong off the bench as well. Gee made three big fourth-quarter free throws and Miller scored four consecutive points in the second quarter when Loyalsock built its 11-point advantage.

As was the case with Mount Carmel, Loyalsock will be meeting Southern for a third time. The Lancers won a 72-69 thriller the last time the rivals played a month ago, rallying from an eight-point halftime deficit.

MOUNT CARMEL (38)

Damen Milewski 2 0-0 4, Garrett Varano 3 0-2 7, Julien Stellar 0 0-0 0, Pedro Feliciano 3 2-2 9, Chase Balichik 0 0-0 0, Cole Spears 4 3-5 11, Jacob Schultz 2 0-2 4, Andrew Wasilewski 1 0-0 3, Noah Shimko 0 0-0 0. Totals 15 5-11 38.

Jaiden Ross of Loyalsock puts up a shot against Mount Carmel at Loyalsock High School Friday night Feb. 25, 2022. Loyalsock won 51-38. DAVE KENNEDY/Sun-Gazette

LOYALSOCK (51)

Saraj Ali 5 5-8 15, Brendan Clark 2 1-2 5, Jaiden Ross 2 1-4 5, Jaylen Andrews 2 2-3 6, Nate Bauman 3 4-4 11, Tyler Gee 1 3-4 5, Braydon Miller 2 0-0 4. Totals 17 16-25 51.

Mt. Carmel 6 14 9 9-38

Loyalsock 14 11 10 16-51

3-pointers: Mount Carmel 3 (Varano, Feliciano, Wasilewski); Loyalsock 1 (Bauman).

Saraj Ali of Loyalsock puts up a shot against Mount Carmel at Loyalsock High School Friday night Feb. 25, 2022. Loyalsock won 51-38. DAVE KENNEDY/Sun-Gazette

Records: Loyalsock 21-4. Mount Carmel 14-10.

Jaylen Andrews of Loyalsock puts up a shot against Mount Carmel at Loyalsock High School Friday night Feb. 25, 2022. Loyalsock won 51-38. DAVE KENNEDY/Sun-Gazette

Brendan Clark of Loyalsock puts up a shot against Mount Carmel at Loyalsock High School Friday night Feb. 25, 2022. Loyalsock won 51-38. DAVE KENNEDY/Sun-Gazette

Jaiden Ross of Loyalsock puts up a shot against Mount Carmel at Loyalsock High School Friday night Feb. 25, 2022. Loyalsock won 51-38. DAVE KENNEDY/Sun-Gazette

Saraj Ali of Loyalsock puts up a shot against Mount Carmel at Loyalsock High School Friday night Feb. 25, 2022. Loyalsock won 51-38. DAVE KENNEDY/Sun-Gazette

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